Geophysicist Job Description

  • Helena Kudiabor
  • Sep 23 2022

As a geophysicist, you’ll learn about the physical structure of the earth, and will study the environmental processes that take place.


What is a geophysicist?

Geophysicists study the physical environment, in order to understand more about the earth’s structure. They collect data on seismic waves, which move through and around the earth. This data is invaluable for the oil and gas industries, as it helps them to understand the amount of oil and gas in the environment.

What are the typical responsibilities of a geophysicist?

Responsibilities vary depending on which sector employs you; however, general responsibilities include: planning projects before going on site, deciding on suitable measurement techniques, interpreting and mapping seismic data, reporting the data at meeting and presentations, assessing potential oil and gas yield, designing and repairing seismic equipment, and working with budget, resource and time constraints.

What specialities are there within the field?

There are a number of specialities available within the field of geophysics. Most geophysicists specialise in one of three areas: solid earth, fluid earth and upper atmosphere. For example, volcanologists measure under-earth temperatures and other readings to predict the formation or eruption of volcanoes, while hydrologists study the distribution and physical properties of the earth’s water. 

What skills do I need to be a successful geophysicist?

Firstly, you’ll need excellent computer skills, to process the data collected and produce 3D models of your work. You’ll also need analytical and problem solving skills. Team-working skills are also important, as well as written and verbal communication skills, to present your findings. In addition to this, colour vision is vital, as you’ll need to interpret geological maps, and differentiate between different rocks and minerals. Finally, you’ll need a passion for travel, as geophysicists often travel abroad to collect data. 

Who employs geophysicists?

A large number of geophysicists are employed by oil and gas companies, but there are opportunities outside of this sector. The rise of contract work within the sector means that there are opportunities within consultancy. For example, environmental consultants are a fast-growing area, with many landfill site owners using geophysicists to help them comply with environmental legislation. Other employers include: universities, research institutes, government bodies and water companies.

How can I become a geophysicist?

To become a geophysicist, you’ll need an undergraduate degree in a STEM subject. The most common degree subjects include: maths, geology and physics. There are also opportunities for students with Higher National Diplomas at technician level, a cheaper and faster route to a job. A postgraduate degree in a relevant subject is not necessary, but often results in elevated employment prospects.